Rette deine Freiheit


Posted: 2010-01-05 22:19   |  More posts about art censorship computers design digital rights germany internet politics words

At the moment in Germany, there is fierce opposition growing against plans by the CDU to implement internet censorship under the guise of attacking the spread of child pornography. A movement championed by the German Piratenpartei has dubbed ex-minister for family affairs Ursula von der Leyen "Zensursula", a portmandeau of Zensur (Censor) and Ursula, and is referring to the CDU's plans as Stasi 2.0, a nod to the brutal secret police which operated in former East Germany.

Not only is there to be a secret list of blocked websites, such as exists in Australia, but the government is pushing for more data to be collected from citizens and retained for a long period of time.

A video which caught my attention a while back was entitled Du bist Terrorist (You are a terrorist). With soft ambient music playing, and deceptively pleasantly designed imagery, the two-minute video parodies the Du bist Deutschland ad-campaign with a soft, reassuring voice informing you of what the German government has in store for you, in terms of heavier and more invasive surveillance -- because You are a terrorist.

Earlier this week I found that the same people had created a new video in the same vein, entitled Rette deine Freiheit (Save your freedom). The video focuses much more on the coming internet censorship in Germany than just data retention and physical surveillance.

Since there was no English translation available, I decided to translate it and re-upload to Youtube. The result is below:

The translation is by no means perfect, but at least it's something. There were a few tricky problems with it:

  • Einfach wegschauen: Literally "simply look away", the video describes this as the method tried-and-tested by members of families with a history of domestic abuse. I was going to translate it as "simply look the other way" in its first instance, since this is the closest phrase in English that pertains to such a situation. However, this doesn't exactly capture the double-meaning employed in the video, since it implies wilful ignorance which isn't quite applicable to what the government is doing, so I decided to settle on "simply block it out". I'm not sure I'm happy with this, however. Suggestions?
  • In the sentence, "In Prävention, Therapie und Personal investiert hätte dies vielen Opfern helfen können: Reinste Verschwendung", the meaning that is sarcastically implied is that the money that could be invested in preventative measures, therapy and personelle is much better spent on building an internet block. I don't think I captured this very well.

In any event, there's likely to be an official translation soon (I just saw an "Englisch (bald verfügbar)" notice at the top of the official page now -- perhaps my emailing asking for a transcript of the video got them in a rush) and these issues will cease to be.

One last thing -- if you are interested in learning more about the situation in Germany regarding internet freedom and the child pornography scare, I'd not only urge you to visit the links above, but also this shocking, but morbidly fascinating account of one techie's work in the murkiest of subcultures. Thankfully, he doesn't go into detail about actual child abuse, but instead details exactly how child pornography rings work, using the internet and computers.

Put simply, it proves what anyone with a clue already knows: current proposals for internet censorship will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on paedophiles and child pornographers and will only serve to infringe the rights of normal, law-abiding internet users.

Thanks to Áine and Patricia for help with one or two minor parts of the translation.

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An anecdote


Posted: 2009-09-30 21:28   |  More posts about censorship football funny oddities politics religion sports

A few weeks ago, I was asked to act as a proxy and present a paper on language evolution at a conference on artificial intelligence and life taking place in Budapest. The presentation went well, considering I'd only had a week or so to read up on what is an enormous subject I'd never studied before.

Later on, in the evening, I had been walking about the town, looking for a suitable place to have dinner when I came across an Irish pub which I decided to have a few drinks in later that night, after having eaten. A match was on that night between Manchester Utd and Besiktas for which they had the projector screen out and all. Upon entering, I attempted to take a seat at the bar, since I had absolutely no interest in the match, only to be chaperoned to the pub audience and told I must be seated with everyone else, in front of the projector screen.

It quickly became apparant that I was the only Irishman in the building: the staff were all Hungarian, there was a group of Americans closest to the screen, then directly in front of me a group of about four Englishmen, and to my left a group of about eight Turks, men and women, who were occasionally chatting to three Danes seated beside them, having dinner. Those Turks immediately to my left were rather friendly and chatty, and after a while we had exchanged pleasantries and stories explaining why and how we had wound up in an Irish pub in Budapest of all places.

One hour and many beers later, and not a goal had been scored. I grew more and more impatient, and the Turks (for whom this game seemed to mean an awful lot) grew more and more raucous. Then, out of nowhere, a shot on-target rebounded off the goal-posts. As it seems, the drink had affected my prior apathy towards the whole event, and I let an annoyed roar of "JESUS!" out of me. One of the Turks turned to me and said with a smile, "Don't you mean Mohammad?" I responded, "Ah yeah, he's pretty good too, just don't draw any funny pictures of him, ye?"

The Danes exploded in laughter.

The Turks went completely silent, staring straight ahead at the projector screen.

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American Department of Defence brands protest as "low level terrorism"


Posted: 2009-06-15 19:00   |  More posts about america censorship politics

From the ACLU:
Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as “low level terrorism.” ACLU attorneys are calling the approach “an egregious insult to constitutional values” and have sent a letter to the Department of Defense demanding that the offending materials be changed and that the DoD send corrective information to all DoD employees who received the erroneous training. “DoD employees cannot fully protect our nation and its values unless they understand that a core American value is the constitutional right to criticize our government through protest activities,” said ACLU of Northern California attorney Ann Brick. “It is fundamentally wrong to equate activism with terrorism.” Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the DoD asks the following: “Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?”  To answer correctly, the examinee must select “protests.” “Teaching employees that dissent on issues of public concern is something to be feared, rather than respected, is a dangerously counterproductive use of scarce security resources, making us less safe and less democratic,” said Michael German, ACLU National Security Policy Counsel and former FBI Special Agent.

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Stealing from the newspapers


Posted: 2009-04-02 11:04   |  More posts about censorship funny ireland linguistics literature politics words

Two amusing articles brought to my attention today. The first is from the Irish Times' supplement celebrating its 150 years. It focuses on the role of the Irish language in newspapers over the years, from their early opposition to the introduction of compulsory Irish in schools, until today, when the sight of the Irish language is becoming rarer and rarer by the day. One paragraph in particular, quoting the late Brian O'Nolan, writing for the Times under one of his pseudonyms, Myles na gCopaleen, made me laugh:

The humour was often surreal. During the days of rationing in the "Emergency",  as the second World War was officially known in this State, Myles suggested that the dative case or "tuiseal tabharthach" in Irish be sacrificed as an unnecessary luxury.
The second article, printed in the Independent, is a short, humourous, satirical piece, lampooning the current Taoiseach and RTÉ's handling of the "picturegate" affair, when it seemed as if the Taoiseach's office was dictating to the national broadcaster what it could and could not cover on the news.

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Internet Censorship - a Wikileaks editorial


Posted: 2009-03-30 22:24   |  More posts about censorship germany internet politics

Today, an editorial was posted on Wikileaks highly critical of the German and Australian governments' pursuit of a rigid system of censorship for internet access in those countries. It describes bounding down the slippery slope from the implementation of these schemes in the interest of censoring child pornography, to the point where "the Australian government's "Minister for censorship", Senator Stephen Conroy, has admitted that fully half of the sites on the secret list are unrelated to child pornography", and finishes up with a few good reasons why censorship shouldn't be considered especially in the case of combatting child pornography online.

I have posted the entire article below, for posterity and as a mirror to the wikileaks site (which seems to have gone down with the strain):

Read more...

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